York Minster Neighbourhood Plan

York Minster is currently consulting the public on a draft proposal for it’s Neighbourhood Plan, with the consultation closing at midnight on the 14th February 2021. If adopted the Neighbourhood Plan will become a statutory document defining future development in the Minster area of the city.

York Cycle Campaign are supportive of the most recent draft for the plan, and encourage members to take part in the consultation to add their support to proposals that retain cycle access through this part of the city. Visit York Minster’s consultation page to view the proposals, and submit your own comments to the consultation.

Background

The Neighbourhood Plan has been in development for a number of years since the City of York Council ratified a Neighbourhood Forum led by The Chapter of York. During this time, a number of consultations have already been held by design consultancy Alan Baxter to gather public opinion on the space.

At the last consultancy, in January 2020, proposals included redirecting the cycle route along the Queens Path (where the stone yard currently sits) onto College Street to rejoin Goodramgate by the National Trust shop. According to the latest draft document, feedback during the January 2020 consultation raised concerns about this, and in the latest revision the route is shown unchanged from the current, direct route.

After this round of consultation, the draft plan will be finalised then submitted to City of York Council who will appoint an independent examiner to review the plans. After this it will go to a local referendum, open to those registered to vote within the Minster neighbourhood area, requiring more than 50% support to be passed. 

If passed the plan will set the tone for future development in the area, acting as a masterplan for the Minster area of the city.

Proposals

The proposal covers various aspects including protecting the unique heritage in the area, improving the offer to visitors, residents and worshipers, and improving the facilities of the Minster. There are also a number of policies and proposals that touch upon cycling in the area.

In the sustainability section (policy A2) the plan sets out that development in the area will ‘prioritise sustainable forms of travel, in particular walking and cycling, to and through the Precinct and complies with the City’s wider footstreets policy.

Movement and Public Realm (policy E1), including; the state that throughout the ‘York Minster Precinct a greater emphasis will be placed upon pedestrian safety and priority over vehicles.’ It also sets out to  ‘Prioritise pedestrian and cycle movements over vehicle movements and parking,’ and to ‘Provide appropriate routes throughout the Precinct for cyclists to travel at low speeds.

Minster Yard & Deansgate

Deansgate and the entrance proposed to be the main visitor entrance into the Minster.

As previously mentioned, the current arrangement and route for cycling through Minster Yard is now proposed to be kept. The Minster Yard & Deansgate area is earmarked to have public realm improvements, as the area Minister’s ‘welcome’ area with visitors entering the Minster at the ramped entrance by the statue of Constantine the Great. Full details as to what these improvements would be aren’t declared as it is only a masterplan at this stage.

Duncombe Place

The proposal notes that motor-vehicle access into Duncombe Place must be maintained for businesses along it, as well as the taxi rank and National Railway Museum road-train, as well as access for cycling. As with Minster Yard, the area is earmarked for public realm improvements again without much detail declared, other than a new public space in-front of the Minster and anti-terror protection against vehicle attacks.

The Campaign’s View

The Campaign supports the proposals for their commitment to supporting and improving cycling with the Minster area of the city. It also greatly welcomes the revision from the early plans that would have seen a crucial part of the cycle network diverted away from the direct route along Deansgate, the latest plans retain cycling access along Deansgate as it currently is. We note that perceived conflict between cyclists and pedestrians in the area has been raised during the consultation period, however police STATS19 data shows a single reported incident between a cyclist and pedestrian between 2005-2019 – compared to 14 relating to motor-vehicles.

Duncombe Place in front of the Minster, a scene of too many traffic collisions.

Going forward, we would hope to see best practice from the new cycle infrastructure guidance followed in all improvements of the public realm to ensure that proposals are of the highest quality. We would welcome if reference to the need to consult and follow the guidance set out in LTN 1/20, or any superseding documents, were to be included in the proposed plan.

We also hope that a commitment to cycle parking could be made within the improved public realm. Currently cycle parking is limited to opposite St Michael le Belfrey and on College Street, both of which are hugely popular and often fill-up during peak times. Introducing more formal cycle parking opportunities in the area will benefit visitors to the Minster, as well as businesses in the north eastern edge of the city centre, and help reduce fly-parking which can be seen to have a negative impact on the heritage setting.

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